RAC Cars News


50 years of Lotus at Hethel

By raccars Published


A new special edition Lotus Evora is being released to mark 50 years at the Hethel factory.

Lotus is celebrating 50 years of production at its Norfolk factory with the release of the Lotus Evora 400 Hethel Edition and has hinted at the possibility of further special editions under development. The Hethel Edition isn't subject to a limited production run and is available in three exclusive heritage paint colours: Essex Blue, Racing Green and Motorsport Black with corresponding interior colours in leather or Alcantara in black or red. Each car will display a plate denoting its special Hethel Edition status.

The Lotus Evora 400 Hethel Edition: specs

The Hethel Editions can be easily distinguished by exterior graphics; a silver stripe along the flanks and a set of forged aluminium alloys with brake callipers in bold red. Mechanically the Hethel Edition is a standard Evora 400, which means a 3.5 litre supercharged V6 with 394bhp, 0-60mph in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 186mph. Kerb weight remains the same at 1,395kg.

The Hethel Edition includes the standard Evora 400's usual accompaniments: automatic air con, 370mm brake discs, a limited slip diff and an infotainment system with built in satellite navigation. However buyers will have to come up with an extra £3,500 on top of the usual £72,000 to get one. Buyers can also pay extra for options including an automatic gearbox and cruise control.

Further celebrations planned

The order books are open now and the first customers are expecting to receive their cars within the next few weeks. According to Lotus, the car is just one part of a series of events celebrating the firm's half a century at Hethel in Norfolk but no details have yet been released. This could mean further special edition cars and / or a series of events to mark the half century.

RAF Hethel

The famous Hethel site which has been home to Lotus for five decades was originally an air force station used in the Second World War by both the RAF and American air forces. It was built in 1942 just south of Norwich and after the war became home to hundreds of displaced Polish citizens, who lived in Nissen huts on the site. Lotus Cars began manufacturing and testing at Hethel in 1966, building its own factory on the site and using parts of the old runway and airfield perimeter as a testing track. The factory covers 55 acres and also houses Lotus Racing, Lotus Engineering and the Lotus Driving Academy.

Colin Chapman and Lotus

Lotus Engineering Ltd was formed in 1952 by the late Colin Chapman CBE and his fellow University College, London graduate Colin Dare. The company opened its first manufacturing facility in Hornsey in North London, just behind the Railway Hotel in old stable buildings. In 1954 the firm split into separate companies for track racing, specifically Formula One from 1958 under the name Team Lotus, and road and customer cars as Lotus Cars Ltd and Lotus Components Limited. In 1959 Lotus opened a factory in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire before Chapman moved the firm to the Hethel facility in 1966.

The future looks bright

Lotus has famously gone through decades of financial turmoil and is now owned by Malaysian car firm Proton. With Jean-Marc Gales at the helm, Lotus has been steadily returning to profitability over the last couple of years, and the smart Evora has played an important role in the process. It follows the company's traditional values of hand built, lightweight, rear wheel drive sporting performance.

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